Designing in the Nude

Just kind of letting it all hang out…design-wise.

This is not something easy for me, to bear my soul as I’m working through the problems. It plays hell with my perfectionist tendencies. I’d much rather bide my time, and years later deliver something that, after hundreds of rounds of revision, might be ready to share.

This early delivery, this is something the tech world might call agile, this publication of half-baked nonsense, a ready-to-go-of-sorts, incomplete at best. But the label isn’t important; the system isn’t important. Strict adherence to a single system is a creative trap.

So, here it is in full view.

What happens next is unknown to me — a little bit like life in general: some parts whimsy, some parts planned. Which way the winds will blow I can never predict.

What I’m talking about is this site. My work. Sharing. “Show your work!” Austin Kleon might say.

A Brief History of Nudity

For the past four to five years, I’ve gone through a bit of a career reformation, a slight change in the original trajectory, so much so that it was at first unnoticeable. Actually, it’s a bit of a return to foundational principles. Like most people, I strayed over time.

In the beginning of my career, I was all about writing words for others to read. I had, without intention, abandoned the comic book making of my youth and focused on crafting beautiful prose, four years of work that culminated with a Creative Writing degree.

It makes sense. Because words are the most important part. Arguments otherwise are usually inadequate. The fact remains that words are one of the primary means of communications between humans, and the words we choose set the tone, convey mood, provide meaning, and add feeling.

Then I changed jobs.

Getting in Touch with My Inner Designer

As with most changes in life, it was followed by a period of reflection, and I rediscovered the subtle but important role that design plays in the things we make. For one thing, it can help ensure that what we create conveys the meaning we intend. Or it can affect the overall mood of a story. Or it can create suspense and impel the audience forward through a piece. There’s so much that it can achieve, but it can work alone.

That’s the thing about creating any sort of content — design and text are opposing forces that balance each other to produce works of beauty and power. Without some structure the words would just ramble on in any direction ad infinitum, like that garrulous uncle you only see at Thanksgiving.

So I added some structure, studied, let images creep back into the mess I was making and embraced the joy of the difficult work of design. All the while I was bringing my creations to life with html, css, and javascript.

Thus began a period of passionate experimentation with the web and content design, one which I continue to carry on.

Today, I’m combining my experiences as a writer, a designer, and a developer into one cohesive whole, into something I can share with others that helps them do one thing better: create beautiful and meaningful content.

And with that, I’ve made the decision that much of the experimentation that will happen on this site will happen in the open where others can see. Whether that’s design ideas, playing with words, or trying some new design pattern or approach, in the tradition of passionate experimentation, I will break things from time-to-time, all with the best intentions of play and the promise of delivering something valuable and novel to you, the reader.

And you, dear reader, will bear witness to all of it, experience it, and I’ll muse about it. That’s what it means to design in the nude.